IRS sees near 400 percent surge in tax scams

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – The Department of Justice issued a warning to not be fooled by scammers impersonating IRS or U.S. Department of the Treasury investigators.

The Internal Revenue Service said it has seen a near 400 percent surge in phishing and malware incidents so far this tax season.

The scams come in the form of email, text and phone call.

The Wake Forest Police Department said it has received reports from residents saying callers claiming to be from the IRS and/or the Department of the Treasury. The caller tells the victim they owe taxes and must pay using credit card, bank account draft, pre-paid debit card or wire transfer.

The scammer threatens with arrest, deportation or loss of a business or driver’s license is a payment is not made.

The callers who commit this fraud often share the following characteristics:

  • Use common names and fake IRS badge numbers
  • Know the last four digits of the victim’s Social Security number
  • Make caller ID appear as if the IRS is calling
  • Send bogus IRS emails to support their scam
  • Call a second time claiming to be the police or DMV, and caller ID again supports their claim

Phishing email scams are designed to get a victim to click on email links and then are taken to sites designed to imitate an official-looking website, such as IRS.gov.

The sites ask for personal information such as a Social Security number. The sites also may carry malware, which can infect people’s computers and allow criminals to access your files or track your keystrokes to gain information, the IRS said.

“This dramatic jump in these scams comes at the busiest time of tax season,” said IRS Commissioner John Koskinen. “Watch out for fraudsters slipping these official-looking emails into inboxes, trying to confuse people at the very time they work on their taxes. We urge people not to click on these emails.”

If you get a call from someone claiming to be with the IRS asking for a payment, here’s what to do:

  • Do not “play along” or attempt to elicit information from the caller. Terminate the call immediately.
  • If you owe federal taxes, or think you might owe taxes, hang up and call the IRS at 800-829-1040. IRS workers can help you with your payment questions.
  • If you don’t owe taxes, call and report the incident to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration at 800-366-4484.
  • You can also file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission at FTC.gov. Add “IRS Telephone Scam” to the comments in your complaint.

The IRS also does not ask for PINs, passwords or similar confidential access information for credit card, bank or other financial accounts. Recipients should not open any attachments or click on any links contained in the message. Instead, forward the email to phishing@irs.gov.

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